I’ve got a new report out today (Dec 1 2010): “Grading Economics Textbooks on Climate Change”, which evaluates the nation’s top-selling economics textbooks based on the accuracy of their treatment of climate science and climate economics. This report is published by Sightline Institute, a think tank I’ve had a long-standing association with (Sightline was where I first starting working seriously on environmental tax reform), so you can also read their blurb about the report here.
Update #1: Here’s the report card in brief: Four books are highly recommended: Colander (A), Mankiw (A), Krugman/Wells (A), and Baumol/Blinder (A-). Eight books are recommended with reservation: Case/Fair/Oster (B), Parkin (B), O’Sullivan/Sheffin/Perez (B), Hubbard/O’Brien (C+), Hall/Lieberman (C+), Cowen/Tabarrok (C+), Frank/Bernanke (C). Four books are not recommended: McConnell/Brue/Flynn (C-), Schiller (D+), Miller (D), Arnold (D-), and Gwartney/Stroup/Sobel/Macpherson (F). Click here for a JPG of this summary.
Update #2: There’s now a petition from Change.org about the textbook that got an F. Check it out and sign on if you see fit!
Update #3: Ed Dolan writes to suggest adding his book (Introduction to Microeconomics, 4th edition; BVT Publishing; $39.99), which he says “has been in print since 1975… In the early 1980s, it became one of the top-selling texts, with copies sold in the six figures per year… Now published by BVT Publishing…an innovative publisher of full-feature, full-package college texts that has had the courage to break the price line of the major-publisher cartel. As you can see from the BVT web site, they sell my book, and similar books in other fields, for about a third of what major publishers charge.” Professor Dolan sent me a PDF of his chapter on “The economics of climate change and environmental policy”, and I’m impressed. I haven’t given it a thorough review, but a not-completely-thorough review suggests that it belongs in the “Highly recommended” category, perhaps even towards the top. There’s good material from the IPCC and excellent content about carbon taxes, cap-and-trade, and intergenerational trade-offs. One concern is that the book doesn’t do enough to specify the time frames for climate impacts, e.g., there are statements like “2 degrees of additional warming could produce anywhere from 6 inches to as much as a meter of additional sea level rise” without quantification of whether we’re talking about sea level rise by 2100 or 2500. Short-term versus long-term impacts are a huge issue and the book could do more to differentiate them. Again, however, my sense is that this book belongs in the “Highly recommended” category, and as Professor Dolan notes it’s a bargain at $39.99.